Eurozone retail sales drop 1.2 percent in November

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LONDON (AP) — Retail sales in the 16 countries that use the euro unexpectedly fell in November, official figures showed Thursday, further denting hopes that consumer spending will drive the region’s economic recovery in the future.

Figures from Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, showed that eurozone retail sales were down 1.2 percent in November from the previous month, in sharp contrast to the 0.2 percent increase recorded in October and analysts’ expectations for another modest monthly rise.

Eurostat said declines were reported in both the food and non-food sectors, with the latter particularly depressed, falling by 1.6 percent during the month.

The figures reinforce expectations that the recovery from recession in the eurozone will be slow. So far, the modest economic growth being recorded has been largely due to a pick-up in global trade volumes, which has boosted exports, particularly in Germany, the single currency bloc’s largest economy.

However, analysts say that for a revival to prove more durable, domestic demand will need to begin to take a bigger role.

For the 27-country EU as a whole, which includes non-euro members like Britain and Sweden, retail sales were down 0.8 percent in November, more than offsetting the 0.5 percent increase recorded in October.

In a separate report, the European Commission said economic sentiment in the eurozone improved further in December, with both consumer and industrial confidence rising modestly.